tv Today NBC March 7, 2010 8:00am-9:00am EST
good morning. deadly day. insurgent violence kills dozens in iraq as voters take to the polls. could it affect the pace of the withdrawal of american troops. grand theft. a gang of robbers storms a casino with guns, grenas and machetes making off with more than a million dollars in a real-life ocean's 11 heist. >> and the winner is -- it's hollywood's biggest nights. the votes are in, the dresses are ready, the stars are shining. all that's left is to find out who will go home with that gold man named oscar. today, sunday, march 7, 2010.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television good morning, everyone, welcome to "today" on this sunday morning. i'm lester holt. >> i'm savannah guthrie filling in for jenna wolfe as she enjoys the morning off. >> it's nice to have you back. you are busier than ever, white house correspondent and daily roundown on msnbc and now you're joining us. >> i did. >> it's good to have you here. let's talk about what's coming up. plenty of news to get to starting in iraq. elections under way but not without violence. >> 25 people have been killed in baghdad. today is the country's first election since 2005 and insurgents had vowed to disrupt the voting there. we'll be live in baghdad just ahead. back here at home, more on the push for health care legislation. president obama is urging
congress to finish its work and get him a bill soon. this as republicans are vowing to fight till the end and divided democrats deciding on whether to vote for the bill with crucial midterm elections looming in the fall. we'll have the latest on that battle coming up. all right, lester, i know you're not a fan of snakes. >> no, thank of samuel jackson's character in "snakes on a plane." that's me. >> some people own these guys. it's part of the multi billion world of exotic pets. we'll look at what attracts people to these strange and sometimes deadly creatures. >> we'll get to that and a lot more. but first the elections in iraq. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in baghdad which has been rocked by violence this morning. >> reporter: the mood here, lester, is quite calm of the most. explosions and mortars happened just as the polls were opening around 7:00 in the morning baghdad time. but being iraq, people here are somewhat used to violence after
seven years of war. after just a few hours, people did start coming to the polls, coming to stations like the one where i am right now and casting their ballots. iraqi officials say voter turnout is about what they expected. 50 to 60%. no official numbers until the polls close later this afternoon. this election is also a critical test for u.s. forces. there are still just under 100,000 american soldiers in iraq. u.s. officials say the violence today does not appear that it will impact the american withdrawal schedule. lester. >> all right, richard, thanks very much. now here's savannah. >> thanks. now to the battle over health care. the president urged congress to finish its work and push for a straight up or down vote on the bill. mike is at the white house for us. >> reporter: the president wants a vote in the u.s. house by the time he leaves for a trip on march 18th.
with democrats divided and republicans unified in opposition, the outcome of health care is still very much in doubt. with the clock ticking on his health care bill, the president made a fresh plea for action. >> we are close. very close. so i ask congress to finish its work. i ask them to give the american people an up or down vote. >> reporter: but while there is bold talk of ultimate victory. >> and we will pass the bill. >> reporter: it's unlikely to win the support of a single republican in congress. >> and we're going to fight and fight and fight and stop this massive takeover of the health care system in america. >> reporter: now it's a divide among majority democrats that stands between the president and success on his signature issue. >> we will not support legislation that has public funding for abortion. >> reporter: some conservative democrats claim the bill would allow federal funding of abortions and facing a storm of public protests, democrats in republican-leaning districts
where health care reform is unpopular are also withholding support. critics say congress should turn its attention to jobs. >> americans are asking why focus on health care reform rather than focusing on the fact that so many people are unemployed. >> reporter: and there are more problems for democrats. >> i'm a direct salty kind of guy. >> reporter: freshman eric massa is quitting congress in the wake of allegations he harassed an aide. and charlie rangel is stepping down from his post as chairman of the ways and means committee as he was admonished for accepting travel to the caribbean. >> i shall not do anything that will impede the success of other democrats. >> reporter: it's all cause for concern in the upcoming election. >> democratic house members are on the verge of panic. >> reporter: and for the president a waivering sale to members of his own party. >> when you're in fear of losing your own seat, every issue becomes exponentially more
difficult and that's the problem democrats are in right now. >> reporter: another contentious issue is immigration reform. the president says he still wants it. tomorrow he will meet with key senators who are pushing a bill on capitol hill to get an update on their efforts. >> mike, thank you. david gregory is moderator of "meet the press." it's good to see you. >> reporter: good morning. >> i want to talk about health care in a minute but let's go back to our lead story, the violence in iraq with the election there. does this administration have a plan that would slow down the pace of withdrawal or are they stuck to this timetable? >> reporter: well, i think they are sticking to the timetable by choice. although there have been more and more voices suggesting that they ought to think about main taping perhaps a larger troop presence than had been originally planned for. just because of the questions that linger about how delicate this new democracy in iraq is. >> let's turn now back to the health care question. we know the president will make another push, he wants a vote soon. how do you see this playing out? >> reporter: very, very
delicately here over the next couple of weeks. this is all about negotiation between democrats now, particularly in the house. the president has 39 no votes among democrats. how does he flip some of those to turn those into yes votes so they get to that magic number, which i believe will be 217 in the house. you've got the issue over abortion that mike talked about in his reporting. it's going to be tough to get there, but it's going to come down vote to vote at this point and that's what the president will be fighting for. >> and the midterm elections hovering overall of this. you look at congressman massa resigning, ethics problems for charlie rangel. do these things continue to weigh on democrats as they look toward the vote or how do they play out? >> reporter: it's going to be a tough year for democrats health care or know. health care will play a big factor in that. whether they succeed or fail in health care it will cast a shadow on the midterm race. this is kind of like 2006. there is real questions about
whether government is working, whether washington is working and the party in charge gets penalized for that, particularly if they are attached to the president's agenda. on health care right now, it's not popular. the president's version of health care reform is not popular, so he's asking for a leap of faith among democrats facing re-election to cast the vote and hope that that public opinion turns around. >> here in new york state there's a political death watch for governor paterson, many expecting he could resign soon over his own ethics problems. does that blow back on washington as well in some form or fashion? >> reporter: i think it does in terms of the national party. we're talking about new york, after all, a huge state, huge media market, so governor paterson's problems in the news nearly every day is weighing. look, the president months ago tried to get governor paterson not to run for re-election and then all of this has happened. so i think the president feels like there's going to be some ownership one way or the other by the white house. >> david gregory, good to see you, thanks. time to get a check of the morning's other headlines and
for that we turn to tamron hall over at the news desk. >> good morning, everyone. we begin with toyota. the company's plans to discredit critics who claim its on-board electronics systems cause sudden ak sem rags problems leading to that massive recall. the automaker plans to duplicate a scenario created by an illinois professor. david gilbert told congress back in february he was able to recreate sudden acceleration by manipulating the electronics. more than eight million vehicles have been recalled worldwide. and new orleans police are searching for a houston energy company president who disappeared while on a business trip. police are reviewing surveillance video along bourbon street and asking for the public's help. 54-year-old douglas schanz was reported miss buying his wife after he did not make his flight back home to houston. >> and the entrance to the
pentagon will open tomorrow. the suspect who shot two police officers was killed in return gun tire. seven significant aftershocks rattled chile on saturday, this as the first of u.s. troops arrived with food and aid. meanwhile some dramatic video of a workner an excavator preparing to demolish a building. the silo is what they were focusing on. suddenly there was a collapse. sadly the worker inside died. a historic factory in pennsylvania was destroyed by a huge fire. the company started back in 1932. they actually made ashtrays for the german air ship and worked on custom items for walt disney. thankfully everyone got out safely. from the razzies to the oscars in only 24 hours. sandra bullock was picked for the worst actress in her movie last year "all about steve."
but tonight it is revenge perhaps because bullock is widely expected to get the best actress oscar for the movie "the blind side." if she wins, this would be the first time someone received a razzie and an oscar in the same year. take that! that is the news. now back to lester, savannah and janice. and, by the way, she showed up for the razzies. that's why everyone loves her. >> razzies sounds like something will leave a mark. >> if she loses tonight she'll always have that razzie to comfort here. janice huff is here with the weather. >> it's spring-like in the northeast. from the northeast all the way down to the southeast the temperatures are finally warming up today. out west we're talking about rain and even some snow. some of the rain in southern california may put a little bit of a damper on the oscars tonight although i think most of the showers will be moving out of los angeles for this evening. but there's going to be snow in the higher elevations of arizona, even around las vegas in the higher elevations they'll get a little snow from this
low-pressure system. temperatures are cool across the southwest, only in the 50s and 60s today from tucson to los angeles. meanwhile on the east coast it's in the 50s in boston. huge improvement. in new york city as well. 72 degrees in miami with sunshine and sunny >> good morning, the sun is out. the humidity is down, we have a light wind. a beautiful day now here's savannah. >> all right, janice, thanks. now to that brazen casino heist caught on tape. it's an attack that seems right out of a hollywood movie.
michelle kosinski is live with more. >> reporter: hi there, savannah, yeah. this was a different way of going for the jackpot. it was billed as one of the biggest, richest poker tournaments in germany. a thousand players, four days. armed robbers suddenly stormed the place in the middle of the afternoon in the grand hyatt in berlin's main square. at one point you see a security guard throwing things at the bad guys. he even briefly captures one of the four robbers who reportedly had guns, machetes and grenades. one robber, though, freed his captured buddy by wielding a piece of the furniture. on the casino floor poker faces disappeared as panic broke out. people were hurt, some of them trying to dive under tables and escape. somehow all of the robbers managed to escape with more than a million dollars or nearly the entire jackpot. what might be more surprising is
that all this was not enough to stop the tournament. the poker simply revved right back up within a couple of hours with an american in the lead. >> poker faces indeed. michelle, do police have any leads or suspects? since it was all caught on tape, maybe somebody will recognize them. >> reporter: well, they have been quoted as saying today they don't have any hot leads, that they're looking at that security video and video that was shot by other photographers trying to get to those hot leads. they're interviewing people who were at the scene but that's where it stands now. this is middle of the day, busy place. these guys get away with bags of reportedly more than a million dollars. >> wow. nbc's michelle kosinski in london for us this morning. thank you. coming up next, it's oscar time. a first look at hollywood's big night. but first these messages. i mean, people love imported water. so this is the next logical step. i think i'll stick with following my green line. oh, come on! hey, working with my guy at fidelity could have me retiring in a few years.
and besides, couldn't people just freeze their imported water? don't be ridiculous. work with the company that's helping more people reach retirement than anyone else -- because when it comes to investing, you should never settle. fidelity investments. love to see kids' spirits shine. superstar and mom, martina mcbride and sunnyd shine on sunny taste. sunny spirit. sunny d. you something about osteoporosis you don't already know. it runs in families - my mother has it, and now i have it. so even though i tried to keep my bones strong, it wasn't enough. now, once-monthly boniva is helping me do more.
it didn't just stop my bone loss. boniva worked with my body to stop and reverse my bone loss. and studies show, after one year on boniva, nine out of ten women stopped and reversed theirs, too. (announcer) don't take boniva if you have low blood calcium, severe kidney disease, or can't sit or stand for at least one hour. follow dosing instructions carefully. stop taking boniva and tell your doctor if you have difficult or painful swallowing, chest pain or severe or continuing heartburn, as these may be signs of serious upper digestive problems. if jaw problems or severe bone, joint, and/or muscle pain develop, tell your doctor. you've got one body and one life, so don't wait. ask your doctor if boniva can help you stop losing and start reversing. (announcer) for a free trial offer call 1-800-4-boniva or visit boniva.com tonight all eyes will turn to hollywood as tinsel town's biggest prize is handed out. that golden guy otherwise known
as oscar. here's janet shanley. >> reporter: the record carpet will be considerably more crowded. there are ten best picture nominees this year, up from the usual five. they include a smorgasboard of critically aclaimed films. >> you're a dummy. don't nobody want you. don't nobody need you. >> reporter: but also the year's top money maker, like "up in the air" and "the blind side." >> when you look at him, you think of me, how you have my back. >> the idea was to bring into the process some pictures that are more accessible. actually are films that people have seen. and the feeling was that the ratings of the academy awards would pick up if people could actually say, oh, i've seen that movie. in recent years it's been a rare phenomenon. >> reporter: speaking of crowded, two veterans share hosting duties, alec baldwin and steve martin. >> i honestly don't think i'll
be playing my banjo because, why. >> reporter: actress meryl streep has her 16th nomination, at an age when hollywood often dumps her actresses, sandra bullock has her first. >> honey, you're changing that boy's life. >> no. he's changing mine. >> reporter: and then there's what's being called the most intriguing matchup, the race for best director, pitting "avatar's" james cameron against his former wife, "the hurt locker's" katheriryn bigelow. >> they are still friends and have worked together since they have been divorced so it's friendly rivalry. >> reporter: if she swins she'll be the first female director. >> this year it's different. you have a woman in there, you have an african-american man in there, lee daniels, so in many ways the academy has opened up the tent to different kinds of people that normally don't get
nominated. >> reporter: and then there's the epic film cameron directed. now the highest grossing movie of all times. "avatar" might also lay claim to the most oscar gold. >> call it. >> i have no idea. >> come on. >> okay. i think "the hurt locker." but that's so conventional wisdomy. >> i don't think so. i would have said the same thing but i really liked "the hurt locker." >> "avatar" i did not see but i like the thought of a fan favorite winning the oscar. >> i love both the movie bus they're so different. it's almost hard to put them side by side. >> and there were ten this year, which is like those kids where every kid gets a trophy on the soccer team. >> you're all winners. >> we'll talk more coming up a bit later. still to come on a sunday edition of "today," it's spring break time. the warnings you and your filed need to know about a popular getaway spot right after this.
try del monte fruit naturals. these portable cups of pre-cut, chilled fruit are ready-to-eat, so the only thing you need to peel is the lid. you'll never be disappointed with fruit that's unripe or spoiled every mouthful is just right, and bursting with flavor. enjoying a delicious fruit snack can be this easy. look for del monte fruit naturals chilling in your produce section now. brand power. helping you buy better. ♪ [ female announcer ] dry, itchy skin. a long term struggle needs long term relief. eucerin calming creme. is clinically proven to relieve dry, itchy skin, with 92% of people reporting improved overall skin condition over time. eucerin calming creme. and the gentle cleansing formula of calming body wash. calm, healthy skin starts with eucerin.
if you missed snl last night, zack from "the hangover" hosted the show. he spent part of the night taking a tour of our network. >> while he was the gop last night, he suddenly finds himself with a viable primary challenge in arizona. >> i don't know, i loved it but it just doesn't feel right. >> you guys doing a tv show or something? >> oh, man, i ain't that kind of guy. >> really? you know what, she kept better books than you, tom. >> i'm on "law & order" right
now. >> i think i've seen that guy. funny stuff. >> adds a little creep factor. >> he was -- i loved him in "hangover." still to come on "today," we'll take an inside look at the exotic pets and millions of americans who love them. plus who will steal the spotlight at tonight's academy awards. the preview just ahead. copy inc. it's open kimono time. looking good, dan. oh, we want to make sure all our ducks in a row. yeah. volume control syndrome. but we focus on the talent and skill that each person... brings to the team. i mean, no one's really concerned about labels. not even mine. labels get in the way. disabilities rarely do. visit thinkbeyondthelabel.com to evolve your work force.
stories. thousands of residences and businesses have no water this morning due to a water main break after 12 hours of searching. crews say that they have located the break in a heavily wooded area. they're looking to fix the problem, 75,000 customers have no water. people with water are being urged to conserve as much as possible. family and friends gathered last night to pay last respects to the gas station owner that was murdered. his funeral came after four arrests. baltimore county police are not releasing the names of the suspects. the 49-year-old was shot at his gas station, dying at shock trauma the following day. a maryland soldier is the latest -- the latest casualty of the war in afghanistan. antony paycee died on thursday after non-combat injuries there
achievement: makes big moves... ...and takes baby steps. it helps you keep the lights on... ...and it knows when to turn them off. achievement: is all around us. a part of our very lives. at pnc, we help make achievement happen. pnc. for the achiever in us all. >> john has a check on your forecast. >> a beautiful morning this morning, lots of sunshine. temperatures dipping into the 40's, like on tv hill, where it is 42 degrees. out to the west there is a weather disturbance, parts of wisconsin and illinois.
this is a little clipper that will be trying to move in within the next 24 hours. it is headed more to the south and there is really high pressure over us. as it moves further east, that little bit of moisture will dissipate. that storm is not a threat to us at all. taking a look at this evening, and here is the high pressure and the clipper with a rush of mild air. we have got some good weather. today's forecast, lots of sunshine at least in the mid 50's. we were close to that yesterday. upper 50's down to the south. it looks like the sunshine will continue into monday as well. tuesday it looks good, although we will start to pick up more cloudiness. there is a storm out on the west coast and by wednesday, thursday, friday, a lot more
clouds and rain fall on those days. mostly 40's for the lows, 50's for the highs. >> thank you, john. thank you for joining us. 11 news su we are back on a sunday morning. it's march 7, 2010, outside of the plaza. i am lester holt with sa vvanna guthrie. >> it's a little spring-like. >> we have a nice crowd here. thanks for coming out on a sunday morning. what's coming up here? >> well, a lot of people have dogs and cats. other people have a more exotic kind of pet. we'll get into this. more than 18 million americans have exotic pets. it could be tigers, big cats, reptiles and pet owners love these animals but there's another side to it and we'll talk to an expert from animal planet about the fatal attraction that compels people to keep animals like these in
their homes despite that danger. plus we'll talk about travel danger. spring break is coming up. a lot of college students will be hitting the road. the state department says know before you go. they put out some warnings about places popular with spring breakers but there are some dangers there. we'll have important information for every parent and their young adult. i'm sure you're going to get all dressed up to watch the oscars tonight. >> jeans and a t-shirt, if that's dressed up, sure. >> maybe poppopcorn, the sweats. the emotional speeches, the suspense over who will win. we'll see if they make some history as we get ready for hollywood's biggest night. first we want to welcome a special guest. actor james vander beak first made a splash on "dawson's creek" but now he's on "mercy" was dr. joe briggs. good morning. it's great to have you. congratulations. >> thank you very much. >> i'm a big fan of the show. i visited the set early on in the production.
it's become a huge hit. you come along and kind of breaking up the old gang as kind of this arrogant -- how would you describe this doctor? >> arrogant, brilliant others might say. not humble. >> i know our producer said he was a jerk and you took issue with that particular characterization. >> well, his main priority is saving lives. he has to step over people at times to do that but i think he also relishes stepping over people or stepping on people. >> and he has a deep, dark secret? >> he does, yeah. >> go ahead. >> well, you'll see a little bit of how he's burning the wick at both ends. >> you enter the show late in the season. did you watch it? how is it to enter a show where there's already a chemistry established and establish yourself? >> you know, it's a lot of fun. this is a really great cast, really good people and they were so cool welcoming me in. i was a fan of the show which is why i wanted to join it. it's fun to come in like this
and shake things up and ruffle some feathers. >> and clearly be out of character, because you seem like such a nice guy. >> oh, thank you. >> we all remember that other character. you have a movie coming up. >> yeah, it's opening in new york and l.a. >> and you already received award at the san diego film festival as best actor. >> yeah. >> great to see you, thanks for being with us. you can catch "mercy" wednesday night on nbc at 8:00, 7:00 central. we want to get another check of the weather with janice. >> we've got a nice crowd on the plaza here this morning and a bit of a chill. it will warm up later. where are you from? >> lancaster, pennsylvania. >> where are you from? >> we're from the d.c. area. >> did the snow finally melt in your yard? >> yeah. >> it's good to see you, glad you made it. let's check on your weather.
well, we're feeling like spring across most of the country today, finally at long last. the temperatures will be warming up over parts of the east coast and the southeast. in the 50s, 60s and 70s. it stays mild and sunny tomorrow across much of the east coast into the great lakes. showers and thunderstorms, though, expected over the southern plains into texas. windy and snowy over the four corners and the central rockies. it's cool across the southwest but the sun comes out tomorrow in vegas where you'll have rain today and maybe snow in the mountains. cool and rainy and snowy in the pacific northwest and windy around san francisco. hi, where are you from? >> milwaukee, wisconsin. >> who's the little cutie back there? hi. what's your name? >> isabela. >> who's that you have right >> good morning, the sun is out. the humidity is down, we have a light wind. a beautiful day
and when we're not here you can always check your weather online at weather.com. now here's savannah. >> janice, thanks. it's been just over a year since a violent chimpanzee attack in connecticut made headlines bringing attention to the world of exotic pets and the more than 18 million americans that own them. a new series takes a look at the so-called fatal attraction some people have with these animals and dave from animal planet is here with a look. dave, good morning. >> how are you. >> first of all action i think a lot of people wonder what's the fascination. why do some people want an exotic pet. a talk or c-- dog or cat or rabbit isn't enough. >> some people are born with that. some people are tiger people. and i think maybe all the sort
of sanity where people say these are wild doesn't take it apart because they have that hunger and love of the animal. >> let's start with chimpanzees. obviously they're so cute when they're little. we all remember that horrific attack in connecticut. >> yeah. >> these can be dangerous animals. >> chimps are the ones in my opinion most people that bring them in as pets, they sort of want to treat them like a child. you see them in diapers, having ice cream, you see them in your house. if you treat them like a child, i think people put those human emotions on those animals and think if i love you, you must love you back. just because they walk up and put their arm around you doesn't mean at 9 years old or 10 years old it isn't going to try to kill you. >> i'm sure people wonder, a, how do you get these exotic animals and are there any laws that govern this? >> there are laws but there's a strong black market in all exotic animals. you could probably buy an
elephant if you wanted to. there are laws but i think they need to be a little stronger as to who can and can't have exotic animals. >> with reptiles i know your show has two tragic stories. two people killed, one by a monitor lizard and the other by her pet viper. do these people not expect them to get so big? you mentioned they think i love you, maybe you'll love me back. >> i think a lot of times it's that and a lot of times it's won't happen to me. you have to have some knowledge to house it and take care of them. most of them understand it happens to other people, but i think it's the old story of, well, this won't happen to me. >> and this show takes a look at these exotic pets but actually the downside of owning them and the show is called "fatal attraction." what are you hoping to accomplish with the show? >> i think it's to highlight the fact that it does happen. hopefully get the message out that it isn't smart, it's not good for the animals and really not good for the people. >> the last on the list is big cats, leopards and tigers.
i've got to say, it's hard to believe anybody can't visualize how a cute little what happen appears to be a kitten will be a frightening animal. >> i think it's that strong, strong will to have that bond with animals. i get it, i'm a big cat guy myself. i think maybe that interest and that love of the animal sort of consumes them into thinking that, well, i'll be able to handle it. >> the bottom line here, is it ever appropriate to have these kind of exotic pets in your opinion? >> they are wild animals. they are never, ever going to be a good pet. >> all right, dave, thank you so much. coming up next, spring break warnings. where should your college student avoid traveling to? find out right after these messages. ake my website... five months ago. we are building a website by ourselves. announcer: there's an easier way. create your own small-business site with intuit websites. just choose a style that fits your business and customize, publish and get found in three easy steps. sweet.
all from just $4.99 a month, get a 30-day free trial at intuit.com. [clucking] look for delicious cadbury's, reese's and hershey's products in the easter candy aisle. 'cause no bunny knows easter better than hershey's. we've got a way for you to check the status of your loan online. securely, any time, anywhere.
this week marks the start of spring break season and an estimated 100,000 american students are expected to let loose south of the border in mexico. but high crime and pockets of violence have prompted government warnings against traveling there. here with more is clint van zandt. good morning. good to see you. >> good to be with you. >> without specifically talking about mexico right now, in general a lot of kids will leave the country to exotic destinations. what are some of the general things they should know about travel safety? >> well, a number of things, lester. number one, know that when you go to another country not all police officers wear uniforms. they can stop you for almost any reason they want to and many times bad guys wear uniforms. number two, if you're out, you should be out and about and traveling in at least groups of three. the reason i say that, lester, is because if you're just in two, sometimes that can be intimidating. what i want to see is three people traveling together. one hopefully is not drinking or
one can at least run for help while the other two deal with the situation. remember your cell phone doesn't always work in a foreign country so make sure internationally that your cell phone is set to work. and parents, be sure not only do you know where your kids are going to be and how to contact them, but have copies of their passport, their credit cards and other things so if they're lost, missing, you can help them with that. >> let's talk specifically about mexico right now because we all know there has been a major drug war, especially in a lot of border cities. our state department warns against travel to many parts of mexico. what's the deal? should you go, should you not go? how do you make a decision? >> well, mexico is becoming more and more challenging, lester. the mexican standing army has about 130,000 troops. just two of the major drug cartels have over 100,000 soldiers themselves. there have been experts that have traveled down there that said in the next ten years that could very well become a drug
country, a drug state. all that said and done, and realize that there are tens of hundreds of mexican internationals that are robbed, that are sexually assaulted, that are murdered, to include americans in mexico, as long as you go to an area, as long as your children are going to an area that's a resort area, they stay in that area, they don't go out on their own, they're careful about what they drink, they're careful about who they associate with, it can still be a good spring break but you've got to keep your head and census about yourself. >> are there any particular cities on the list that are of particular concern? >> i think when you get down there, one of the things that you have to do is research. the state department has put out some very good information on cities that are challenging. but i think if you know where you're going, if you know where your children are going, get on the internet and research and find out what's going on in that area. just in a month of february, i read a report where one robbery,
an individual had a hand grenade taped to his neck. a catholic priest was murdered when he wouldn't give up his money. half a dozen people were beheaded. lester, that list goes on and on and on. so it's like everything else in life, you have to know where you're going, you have to know what you're with and you have to know what's going on around you. >> all right, clint, important information. thanks for coming on this morning. >> lester, these tips and others, as you know, are at our website, livesecure.org and that information is there. parents, having had three children go down there myself, i know what we have to know. >> clint, thanks. it is now 44 minutes past the hour. here's savannah. >> lester, thanks. this morning on "today's" money, the tax professionals in this tough economy are trying to get every dollar they can from tax returns. while many tax professionals promise a larger refund than if you file them yourself, how do you know if the expense will pay off. here to help answer is david bach, author of "start over,
finish rich." the first thing before we get into the issue of should you do them yourself or hire an accountant, there's one thing we should all be doing all year long. i'm terrible at this. >> you have to find your money. that means keeping great records. the government knows we to a poor job itemizing our tax deductions. we lose a billion dollars a year by not itemizing our taxes. you've got to keep records. your health care, interest on mortgage, business expenses, home improvements. keep track all year long. one thing you should do, go to irs.gov put in a search engine itemize tax deductions and you'll see pages of things to keep track of. >> now, everybody is trying to pinch pennies wherever they can. let's go through some of the signs whether or not you should hire an accountant. what are kind of your rules of the road there? >> really simple rule. if you make over $57,000 i would
use a professional cpa. if you're self-employed, if you just bought a home recently, if you trade stocks frequently or own multiple pieces of real estate. if you just went through a divorce or retirement, these are things that trigger the need for professional tax advice. >> now, the tax code is, what, 14,000 pages? >> 14,000 pages. >> the irs commissioner says he doesn't even do this is own taxes but about 40% of americans to. how do you know if you're a candidate to do your own taxes? >> first of all, if you have a very simple return. let's say you work and get a w-2 and you have nothing else. i rarely meet people who have nothing else but if you're not taking itemized tax deductions, if you only have a few bank accounts, real estate, if you don't trade frequently, you may not need to hire a professional. there are great programs out there. turbo tax is huge, tax act, h & r block has a program you can use and they're very inexpensive. they're $20 to $50. they have all kinds of questions to walk you through. >> our producer who was
preparing this segment did her taxes on three different programs and got three different results. it's a little frightening. >> we talked for a while about this but they were close. one was $31 she owed, 1 was $37 and one was $90. your producer reached a point when she was doing it herself, she had a question. she couldn't get it answered because there's nobody to talk to. now, with the h & r block software you can pay $20 and call and speak with someone but i think this is where people get stuck doing it themselves. >> let's look at some of the costs of the tax preparation software versus an accountant. >> if you go to one of the larger organizations it's going to run you $100 to $500 to get your taxes done. a lot of times people say i can do this myself. i show them if you spend $500 having your tax return done on average in my experience i've seen people get back $1,000 to $1500. so it's usually worth the money
and it's also a tax deduction. >> that is the good part, right? david, thank you so much. >> my pleasure. just ahead, the stars, the statues, the suspense. it's oscar night. first these messages. you took my eggs ! it's an "egg management fee." what does that even mean ? egg management fee. even kids know it's wrong to take other people's stuff. that's why at ally bank we don't eat away at your savings with fees. and we offer rates among the most competitive in the country. it's just the right thing to do. ♪ [ female announcer ] dry, itchy skin. a long term struggle needs long term relief. eucerin calming creme. is clinically proven to relieve dry, itchy skin, with 92% of people reporting improved overall skin condition over time. eucerin calming creme.
the red carpet is ready, the statues are polished and the acceptance speeches are written and hopefully short. hollywood's biggest night is finally here. >> they're only giving them 45 seconds. we've assembled an expert panel for a preview. from possible upsets to the dresses that could have us buzzing tomorrow. joining us is allison bayles, lori burgamoto and comedian
rick. this is a part where we get to make our guesses and in the end nobody holds us to us. >> let's go to the top. best picture. we have ten nominees but it seems to be a horse race between "avatar" and "the hurt locker." >> i don't think it matters that they made it ten nominees. it's to give a nod to some of the more popular films but for me it's "the hurt locker" all the way. i know "avatar" won the golden globe but "the hurt locker" has won the important prizes like the directors guild, the produces guild and i think hollywood, the actors and directors really, really connected with can the the hurt locker." >> you've got competing spouses here and first african-american director. >> right. daniels. >> where do you see that landing? >> between the ex-husband and wife? >> yeah. >> again, tricky. i think james cameron did an amazing job with "avatar."
but i think "hurt locker" will win for kathryn bigelow. that film has everything. a fantastic screenplay, great performances. "avatar" wasn't nominated for those: >> let's dispense with the movie talk and get to the fashion. what do we think the trends will be this year? >> well, from what we've seen this awards season there's the jewelled tone dress. we've seen sandra bullock at the globes, we've seen cameron diaz in scarlet ruby colors. there's that whole jewel color, which we love, because normally you see a lot of black dresses, which are great, but it's always fun when people take a little bit of a risk. we've also seen sculptured dresses. maybe it's from "avatar," the futuristic. they're thinking about cyber dressing and all this stuff. but we've seen a lot of really nice architecture on dresses and really interesting structures
and sculptural designs. i think also ball gown extravagance. we'll see trains, we'll see fish tails. it's going to be an all-out black tie affair. >> in the show they have got two hosts, alec baldwin and steve martin. rick, how will that work out? >> they're really going for a young demographic, i don't think they did it with this group of guys. it's like, you know, they're great, i love them, but i'll be 41 tomorrow. you know, that type of thing. but rumor has it that steve martin is going to unretire the white suit and the arrow through the head. >> that's the wild and crazy guy era. >> he didn't want me to ruin it for him but we were hanging out and he said, rick, i'm bringing it out. >> alec is on a roll with "30 rock." this could work. >> we were talking about fashion. i'm hoping there will be a guy that comes down the red carpet and says, i got this at men's
warehouse. and i want the return of the -- >> i want people to wear more animals. >> it's a disappointment. allison, what about best actor, best actress? it seems like the narrative is really pushing it. you have two actors who seem to be front runners because it's their time. >> yes, but deservedly so for jeff bridges. this is his fifth nomination. everyone is shocked he hasn't won before. and he gained weight. >> and he sings. >> and he sings, exactly. so -- and it's a fantastic role. it was written for him. tailor made for the role. sandra bullock, she had a great year last year with "the proposal." and we can just forget about steve. >> she won a razzie for that. >> she's on a sweep. she'll win best and worst. i saw crazy heart and i loved it but oscar has a history of going back and straightening out their mess-ups. al pacino didn't win for
"godfather" and he wins for "scent of a woman." jeff bridges has been in a lot of great films and great performance and it's time. >> you only get 45 seconds for an acceptance speech but you get to do one backstage for youtube. >> that's going to work out. you're going to give a bunch of performers a spotlight and a mic and say cut it off at 45 seconds. but we talked about it and we think they should have a meter. if you're doing well, you can keep going. if you start crying, mascara is running, you're out of there. >> they're starting to cue our music. we've got to let it go. thank you so much. nice to be with you. we'll be back right after these messages.
man: you want me to invest in what? imported ice? yeah! i mean, people love imported water. so this is the next logical step. i think i'll stick with following my green line. oh, come on! hey, working with my guy at fidelity could have me retiring in a few years. and besides, couldn't people just freeze their imported water? don't be ridiculous. work with the company that's helping more people reach retirement than anyone else -- because when it comes to investing, you should never settle. fidelity investments.
let's say hello to david gregory and find out what's coming up on "meet the press." >> good morning. coming up this morning health care reform's final act. we discuss the politics, the policy and the end game with secretary of health and human services kathleen sebelius. then the political stakes this year, health care, ethics scandals hurting prominent democrats and the great recession's ongoing toll. insights and analysis from our political round table as well. it's all coming up this morning. >> that's going to do it for us. we want to thank savannah guthrie for filling in. and you brought guests. >> i did. this is alexandra harris. say hello. thanks so of much. thanks for watching, everybody. i'll see you tonight on nbc nightly news. until then, so long. have a great one.